PRICE, WILLIAM (1800 - 1893), eccentric

Name: William Price

Date of birth: 1800

Date of death: 1893

Partner: Gwenllian Llewellyn

Child: Penelopen Elizabeth Price

Child: Gwenhiolen Price

Child: Iesu Grist Price

Child: Iesu Grist Price

Parent: Mary Price

Parent: William Price

Gender: Male

Occupation: eccentric

Area of activity: Law; Medicine; Anti-Establishment

Author: Islwyn ap Nicholas

Born 4 March 1800 at Ty’nycoedcae, in the parish of Rudry, Monmouthshire, third son of the Rev. William Price and his wife, Mary. He attended school at Machen, and later became was apprenticed to Evan Edwards, Caerphilly, and became a student at Bart’s and at London Hospital, qualifying as a L.S.A. (September 1821) and M.R.C.S. (October 1821). He practised at Nantgarw, Treforest, and Pontypridd, becoming very well known both as physician and surgeon. He claimed to be an arch-druid, and performed ancient rites on the Pontypridd rocking-stone. His dress consisted of a white tunic, covering a scarlet waistcoat, while his trousers were of green cloth. On his head he wore a huge fox skin. He practised free-love, advocated cremation, was a vegetarian, opposed vaccination and vivisection, scorned orthodox religion, despised the law and its administrators, and was a Chartist leader, but did not participate in the Chartist march on Newport. After the march on Newport in 1839, he escaped to France disguised as a woman. His last visit to Paris was in 1860, and he visited Boulogne in 1861.

He was involved in innumerable lawsuits; in court he would refer to his young daughter, whom he styled ‘Iarlles Morganwg,’ as ‘my learned counsel.’ He was indicted at the Glamorgan assizes in 1884, before justice Stephen on the double charge: (i) of attempting to cremate the body instead of burying it, (ii) of attempting to cremate the body so as to prevent an inquest being held. As a result of the trial, the legality of cremation was established.

At the age of 83 he took as ‘companion’ Gwenllian Llewelyn, who became the mother of three of his children, Iesu Grist, Iesu Grist the Second and Penelopen. He died at Llantrisant on 23 January 1893, and his body was cremated, but not exactly in accordance with the explicit and detailed instructions given in his will.

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